Murder During A Robbery In Virginia
In Briley v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 532, 273 S.E.2d 48 (1980), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 1031, 69 L. Ed. 2d 400, 101 S. Ct. 3022 (1981), Linwood Briley was convicted of capital murder in the commission of robbery. Briley and three accomplices accosted the victim outside a restaurant, robbed him at gunpoint of his wallet, ordered him into the victim's car, and transported the victim to an isolated location. See 221 Va. at 534-535, 273 S.E.2d at 50.
When the victim "'started struggling'" at that location, Briley shot him. Id. at 535, 273 S.E.2d at 50.
Fifteen to twenty minutes elapsed from the time the victim was robbed and seized until he was killed. See id. After driving around in the victim's car, Briley and his accomplices eventually stripped it of its parts. See 221 Va. at 536, 273 S.E.2d at 50.
Briley's "major contention" on appeal was "that the trial court erred in refusing a defense instruction which would have permitted the jury to find that the robbery of the victim terminated at the . . . restaurant and, therefore, that the defendant was guilty only of the non-capital offense of first degree murder in the subsequent killing." Id. at 540, 273 S.E.2d at 53.
The Supreme Court found that the victim's car "was a fruit of the robbery" showing "conclusively that the violence against the victim and the trespass to his automobile combined and continued unabated" from the initial taking until the murder. 221 Va. at 544, 273 S.E.2d at 55.
Adapting language from Haskell v. Commonwealth, 218 Va. 1033, 243 S.E.2d 477 (1978), a felony-murder case, the Court ruled "that the killing involved here was so closely related in time, place, and causal connection as to make the killing, as a matter of law, a part of the same criminal enterprise." Id. at 544, 273 S.E.2d at 55-56.
Since Briley, the Court have affirmed convictions for capital murder during the commission of a robbery when the evidence was sufficient to support a conclusion that the killing and theft were interdependent objects of a common criminal design.